This Week In Hockey, Featuring The LA Kings
Who says nothing happens in the off-season? Transactions, front office moves, an Olympic break, set schedules and division names have all been topics of discussion this week in hockey. My subject, the Los Angeles Kings.
Jordan Nolan agrees to a new two-year contract http://t.co/UPMb8RXk1F
— LA Kings (@LAKings) July 21, 2013
In free agency news, Jordan Nolan was able to strike a deal with General Manager Dean Lombardi for a 2-year, $1.4 million deal. He is the third out of four Kings that filed for arbitration, but now avoids it along with Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez. The remaining individual bound for arbitration, Trevor Lewis, and fellow restricted free agent, Kyle Clifford are themselves still trying to get a deal done.
In other contract news, the Kings gave captain Dustin Brown an 8-year, $47 million extension. Of course this is great news for the club, but it is even better news for the chemistry of the team, something Lombardi has stressed. Sans injury, retirement or trade, at the very least, the Kings have locked up Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick through the 2019-20. To add, Anze Kopitar has a contract through 2016-17, which might get extended as well (barring a dip in production). Dean Lombardi, well played! I give you an appreciative golf-clap. In front office news, the Kings hired former captain and hard-hitting defenseman Rob Blake. Yes they did. They hired Rob Blake. As Assistant General Manager. Yup. That is all I have to say about that. In general league news, the NHL has released the schedule for the 2013-14 season, given a statement on NHL players in the Olympics and named the new divisions for next season’s conference realignment. Starting with some information on the season, here are a few noteworthy dates: Kings open up on the road against the Wild in Minnesota October 3. They open up at home October 7 against the New York Rangers. January 25, the Kings host the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium for the first-ever outdoor hockey game in Los Angeles.
ICYMI: NHL players will participate at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Details: http://t.co/kksdUtPGCL
— NHL (@NHL) July 20, 2013
In regards to the Olympics, the NHL gave its approval for its players to represent their countries. Thank deity they did, or there would have been a lot of angry hockey players around the world. Still, the Olympic break (which most likely means no All-Star game next year) will span February 9-25. And finally, the new division names will be rightfully mocked in my final two paragraphs.
And here are the final two paragraphs. Since late 2011, talk of the NHL realigning made headlines across Canada and the U.S. This was to be a simpler formula for divisional grouping, which centered around easy travel for teams with potential budget boosts. In March of this year, the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) approved the changes to current conference and division alignment. The Western and Eastern Conferences remain, but will have only two divisions. At the time, each division was known as Division A, Division B, Division C and Division D. As a fan, yearning for the days of yore, when the NHL had the coolest division and conference names ever, the unveiling of the names was something I had been waiting for. This past week, the NHL had unveiled those names, and you know what? At this point, naming them Division A, Division B, Division C and Division D is much more comforting with the let down of the now named, Pacific, Central, Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions.
Say hello to the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific divisions. http://t.co/DqvsmjPYmb
— NHL (@NHL) July 20, 2013
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had a chance to grab some headlines, in a positive way (I’ll get to why it is negative in a moment), by coming up with some classy and eye-catching names. Instead, he points out the obvious with geographical locations…at least the Southwest, Northwest and Northeast Divisions do not exist anymore. The worst part is the negative attention he drew to the new names. Not only are they boring, but three out of four did not get “cool names”. The Metropolitan Division sounds like the division to be beat, the division of solid teams, the division of hockey history! It also sounds like an upscale man’s nightclub. Twitter was ablaze with jokes about the “Metrosexual Division” as well as possibly appropriate references to Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and the entire New York Rangers club, who are both in the Metropolitan Division. I even laughed at the notion. Still, I felt had and it is one man’s fault. Mr. Bettman, thanks for making hockey the fool again. You have let me down.